'It was spring and we suckled dreams': Four poems by Linthoi Ningthoujam

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'It was spring and we suckled dreams': Four poems by Linthoi Ningthoujam

'It was spring and we suckled dreams': Four poems by Linthoi Ningthoujam

Ode To Home

a girl found a sparrow nesting on her tresses one morning it was spring and we suckled dreams of granaries deep with rice slumbering till the next harvest it was the town i grew up in in that town where i grew up we injected dreams in veins blue as our sky above musty lanes promised ecstasy in pills on a cloudy day our earth, forgiving, buried the needles the rain told my neighbour planted a rose on his severed forefinger in that town i left dreams are sold at counters bought in installments from salary for pockets heavy, for pockets torn dreams shriek below muzzles from a hillock shield in with books we never dream at night anymore since that dawn a body was found, eyes blindfolded we just hide them on the other side of the moon in the same town budget dreams loaded up from the neighboring country find a child's foot and he kicks life in to a goal you will hear a mother humming a lonely dream to the sound of a loom in misty mornings the potency of its rhythm poets long to roll into an ode in that town of my return i dream of my lover bringing me beginnings folded in a lotus leaf and i will simply watch a toddler trying to use an umbrella inside a room simply watch the birth of dreams senseless elusive sublime ***

Mother's Hair

mother's ebony hair tangles umbilical cords of brother and i tendrils of that golden pumpkin leaning shyly on the shadow of her father's house, cupping her girlhood wrinkles of her first love left at a crossroad mother's knee-length hair shelters dreams for her children in crumpled ten-rupee-notes maroon blushes rising as she haggles used clothes muffled stings of a husband latched in another's arms mother refuses to cut her hair, grey and all washes, combs cuddles in a bun pins flowers collected with the morning dew and out she goes to dance for the ancestral gods father has none the gods took them all away and left him bald. ***

City, Love, and an Accord

The difficulty of summer is that I think of plum trees nudging the clouds of your village and a hillwoman hurriedly collecting the smell of earth in her sham. I still haven't been to Mao. I stole this poem from your lips one blue summer in this city when we searched for psychedelic nostalgias; citrus skins of our homes, our leaden sky , the shaman calling forth the rain; in the bareness of our heated bodies and called it love. We carry our terrain in the high of cheekbones and the slant of eyes. They asked if we tumbled out of the same womb into a chaos of insect-eaters. Yes, we are savages, wild and children of the earth You cannot tame the scent of my wildflower. There was solace in shops selling herbs you and I both know with different names; tuningkhok, I have forgotten yours, and our tongues learned to shape to new forms. I tucked my phanek on the other side to your memory of femininity and we called it love. It was a time before we understood accords and that a man's love for his nation is more than his bruised land could bear. We stood with a drunken awkwardness of knowledge in a room where people not born of our soil discuss how to split our trees, part our rivers quarry fossils of our genesis and burn the mist of our dawns. We are now banal relics in each other's tales of how we dared love "the other"; ashen tokens appropriating our modern sadness. A sudden gush of rain punctuates and we found each other in the same blue of this city yearning for the mist we left. ***

Winter

i do not know much of winter in the hills its lores are kept in echoes only that in Tamenglong oranges ripen on sun-kissed skin of its natives in Ukhrul some prayer must have risen on Christmas for a Rose* that refuses to be forgotten in the valley people hurry to the newly-opened Night Plaza for answers to corruption or the loss of a shoe only a deer-shaped lights stand mute they turn back seeking refuge in dying embers and daily routine for instance how cold was it when that young girl was drowned? along with her child? umbilical cord attached still? how blue were its lips? did it take after the mother's? i flip the calendar to the picture of spring a line on my palm deepens there is no longer the assurance of crossroads stars do not guide to dreams but wait feebly for dawn to crumble again and if you search for warmth in such a time fall in love and like a madwoman kiss that poem hanging low on a pomelo * Rose from Ukhrul district, Manipur, was raped by officers of the Border Security Forces in 1974. She later committed suicide. ***
Linthoi Ningthoujam is from Imphal, Manipur, and currently stays in Delhi. Some of her poems have been published in Sonder, and Kekru: An Anthology
Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review: Monsoon verses : Five poems for the season ‘And we smelt like guavas’ : Five poems by Nilim Kumar ‘You may see the city slowing down’ : Five poems by Malcolm Carvalho  

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